House Republicans today released a new video highlighting key events in the IRS targeting scandal and efforts led jointly by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee to investigate wrongdoing, overcome administration stonewalling, and ensure that the IRS never again repeats this abuse.
The video begins with President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address criticism of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that struck down certain restrictions on political speech as violations of the First Amendment. One month later, the IRS stopped approving applications for Tea Party groups but continued to approve the applications of left-leaning applicants. Key targeting scandal figure Lois Lerner, speaking on the repercussions of increased political participation in the wake of the Citizens United ruling, tells an audience in the middle of the targeting efforts, “They want the IRS to fix the problem.” Though the IRS repeatedly offered assurances that political beliefs played no role in increased scrutiny, persistent questioning by Congress and an Inspector General’s audit led to a stunning admission by Lerner in May 2013: the IRS did target conservatives.
While Lerner, and even the White House, try to convince the American people that improper conduct was limited to rank-and-file IRS workers in a field office, the narrative crumbles under the House’s investigation. House leaders keep pushing for disclosure and accountability: criminal charges against Lerner, the appointment of a special counsel to replace a tainted Justice Department investigation, and full disclosure – including all of Lois Lerner’s e-mails to help mitigate the gaping holes left by her refusal to testify. The IRS claims to have “lost” years of Lerner’s official e-mails, which they hid from Congress and the American people for months. Adding insult to injury, the Obama Administration continues to pursue new rules to accomplish what targeting ultimately failed to do: silence groups like the Tea Party who want to participate in our democracy. Although robust criticism of the new targeting-by-regulation effort has stalled the Administration’s new unilateral effort to silence political views, without real change and continued citizen engagement the threat to our Constitutional rights by the IRS is not over …
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) stated: “Congress’ investigation has uncovered serious, unprecedented actions taken by the IRS, which actively worked to deprive conservative groups of their rights under the Constitution. We will continue to work to fully expose what really happened at the IRS so we can ensure that no American is targeted for their beliefs by their own government.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said: “We have stopped an IRS targeting effort that treated conservatives differently and we have put the brakes on a new Administration effort to target political participation through regulation. But we have not fixed the IRS or finished our investigation of targeting that started under Lois Lerner. This IRS, this Treasury Department, and this White House have not given Congress the cooperation they promised – they have attempted to stonewall us. This new presentation should remind Americans that this is not over: the House of Representatives continues our investigation, our demand for a credible criminal probe, and to protect the rights of all Americans to participate freely and openly in the political process.”